“Birth of a flag”

One of the substantial pieces in the 1943 souvenir edition of Free Philippines magazine was “Birth of a flag” (p. 95) written by Pura Villanueva Kalaw, which shared the experiences of Filipino women coming together to sew and make the Philippine flag that would be raised during the proclamation of the Philippine Republic. 

Ms. Kalaw wrote that after learning from the Sunday Tribune that the PCPI (Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence) had met to discuss the work of its different committees, women, including herself, approached PCPI President Jose P. Laurel to discuss the Filipino women’s involvement in the preparation, something that Mr. Laurel (who would eventually become the third president of the country) welcomed with graceful tact.

“You are the first women to come to me in order to profess an interest for our constitution. You must never for a moment forget that we have the progress of the Filipino woman in mind and we shall not permit such progress to be retarded. Rest assured that all the rights and privileges of a citizen which you now enjoy shall be conserved,” Mr. Laurel said.

The women asked to grant them the honor of sewing together the flag for the proclamation, and Mr. Laurel readily agreed.

Women Voices, Philippine History, Philippine Flag, Independence Day, Filipino women
Free Philippines (1943). Birth of a flag [Image, screen capture]. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/filipinasheritagelibrary/docs/free_philippines__a_souvenir_editio?e=18015266/13622560

“The flag was prepared with true patriotic fervor, with women belonging to all social classes from the wife of the Chairman of the Executive Commission to the most humble daughter of the country cooperating,” Ms. Kalaw recalled.

Here’s a picture of what happened thereafter: 

  • The first meeting of the women took place in the Rendezvous. 

  • The size of the flag was 10 feet wide and 20 feet long.

  • The cost of the material was raised from contributions from women, from five centavos up to P600. 

  • There was an incident of one woman offering to pay for all costs of the materials, which was declined, but she was later allowed to contribute the biggest amount. 

  • Mrs. Jorge Vargas had the signal honor of being the first to contribute. 

  • Students of the Philippines Women’s University donated five centavos each up to a sum of P100.

  • Market vendors in San Andres also contributed five centavos each.

  • Work on the flag was done in different places, including the Hall Service of the Philippine Women’s University, YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), Intituto de Mujeres, National Federation of Women’s Club, Centro Escolar University, Women Lawyers Association, Philippine Nurses Association, League of Women Voters of the Philippines, Associacion de Damas Filipinas, Philippine Red Cross, Ladies of the City Hall, and other women’s clubs of the country.

  • A total of 150 women participated.

“The solemn occasion for which this flag is destined implies an emblem, with a glorious history which should merit preservation through centuries to come,” Ms. Kalaw wrote.

Women Voices, Philippine History, Philippine Flag, Independence Day


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